World

New Poll: Strong US Support for Beating Taliban
September 22, 2009

Check out the new Pew poll about Afghanistan. Most Americans don't believe things are going well there, and support for withdrawal is rising. But a surprisingly high number still believe strongly in the basic objective: Nonetheless, a sizable majority of the public (76%) views the possibility of the Taliban regaining control of Afghanistan as a major threat to the well-being of the United States.

Can We Deter the Taliban?
September 22, 2009

Josh Marshall is the latest prominent liberal commentator to come out against an all-out engagement in Afghanistan. Along the way, he makes this point: But even if the Taliban again ruled the country, it's difficult to imagine that with our forces in the region and our army of drones, we'd have much problem raining down a ton of ordinance the first time they really put up their head. I think it's a good one. In late 2001 we demonstrated for the Taliban the consequences of an al Qaeda attack originating from the safe haven they provided.

The Afghanistan Leak Game
September 22, 2009

Michael "Mission Creep Watch" Cohen takes issue with my last print piece, which foreshadowed the growing tension between the White House and some Pentagon officials over Afghanistan troop levels. Whereas I warned the Obama team against the temptation of setting an ambitious mission while limiting painful troop increases--much as George W.

The Limits of Afghanistan Analogies
September 22, 2009

Last week, Taliban leader Mullah Omar issued a taunting statement warning America about its prospects in Afghanistan. Here's a choice excerpt: The former Soviet Union claimed, the Red Army was invincible but faced defeat at the hands of the Afghans and completely disintegrated. Many other countries got independence thanks to that. Today USA, the Britain and their allies are bent on subjugating Afghanistan. They are in a total self-delusion and their brain seems not working normally. This is a season of historical analogies.

Dying For Barge Matal
September 22, 2009

This is the sort of thing that's awfully hard to explain to the American people: In early July, Afghan President Hamid Karzai asked senior U.S. officials to dispatch a company of about 100 U.S. soldiers to Barge Matal, a village in the northern half of the province that is home to fewer than 500 people. Taliban insurgents had overrun the community and Karzai was insistent that that U.S. and Afghan forces wrest it back from the enemy. "I don't think anyone in the U.S.

For Your Protection
September 22, 2009

Earlier this month, Barack Obama apparently completed an anti-free-market trifecta, adding "protectionist" to a rap sheet that already included "deficit spender" and "serial nationalizer." And not just any protectionist, mind you. In the words of former Bush spokesman Tony Fratto, Obama will hereafter be known as "the president who ‘lost' trade for America." The following day, the Wall Street Journal editorial page elaborated: "America now has its first protectionist President since Herbert Hoover." So what did Obama do to earn this unsavory distinction?

Afghanistan: The Petraeus Factor
September 21, 2009

Largely invisible in the current debate over troop levels in Afghanistan, which has exposed some stress fractures between the Obama White House and the Pentagon, is Centcom commander David Petraeus. Given his immense credibility as the man perceived to have "saved" Iraq, Petraeus could have a potentially decisive influence on a domestic political debate about troop levels by making his own assessment known. But, while Petraeus's commentary about Iraq was once ubiquitous, today he's laying awfully low.

The Wire, Season 6: Kabul Boys
September 21, 2009

In which McNulty, exiled to an agricultural-training mission in rural Afghanistan, winds up bringing down the Afghan president. LAT: U.S. spy agencies have already stepped up their scrutiny of corruption in Kabul. The recent Senate report described a wiretapping system activated last year that is aimed at tracing ties between government officials and drug kingpins in the country. Yes, my setup was a joke--but this surveillance is not. It's not hard to imagine it leading us to some inconvenient places.

Blockade Iran?
September 21, 2009

As a senator, Chuck Robb was certainly a DLC-style Democrat, but never a wild-eyed hawk. Yet writing with two co-authors in the Washington Post today, he suggests that the U.S. might consider a sanctions-enforcing naval blockade on Iran by early next year. I would be surprised to see Barack Obama take such a step.

Could McChrystal Quit?
September 21, 2009

That Post article today isn't the only sign of impatience within the military brass over Afghanistan troop levels.

Pages